Career counseling · Old blog

Career counseling #10: The cover letter

There are thousands of templates on the web, all for the “perfect cover letter”. You can find templates for different jobs, different fields. But, in principle, they all look the same. Your name and address on the left, the employer`s name and address on the right, the date on which you are sending it just below and that “Dear Mr/Mrs.” right there.

The paragraphs all look the same. The first one is short telling where you saw the job. The second is that you are perfect for the job because you studied this and you worked on that. The third, well, is weird. You keep going on and on about your experience, trying to explain everything. And, then, you`re using it for all your applications.

And this is completely WRONG.

Here is what you should do.

  1. Don’t look for templates. They only confuse you and give you the sense that you are not doing it right.
  2. Don`t listen to career counselors or seek information online about how to do it. Career counselors are just people who tell you what to do and that have never actually did it themselves. The self-help articles are about the same, but without the human touch.
  3. imagesLook at the job description. Most people do not care about the job description. They only look at the profile to see what to put in the cover letter. Many do not even look there. They build a standard one and send it. The job description is the one that actually tells you what they are searching. Look there to see if you match and right about what you see there.
  4. The 1 page rule. Even if it is says that the cover letter can be of two pages maximum, stick to only one. One page, three paragraphs: who you are, how you fit the profile and why should they hire you instead of another.
  5. Search for the person. If the posting says that you should send it to careers@…., google the company and see who`s the head of department/service for which the position is open. Address the cover letter to him.
  6. If there is no person, don`t say “Dear Mr, Dear Mrs.” or, even worst, “To whom it may concern”. You can say “To the Hiring Manager” or “To the Search Committee”. You can create your own catch phrase for the cover letter.

In the end, you are the only person to decide how your cover letter should look like. This article is the same as many others you can find online and gives you pretty much the same advice. I wouldn’t read it because everybody wants more followers, more views, more anything.